Do you need a charbroiler for your kitchen? If so, what kind? This guide will help you to figure out how to buy one of these specialized pieces of restaurant equipment. The charbroiler is indispensable for some kinds of restaurants, especially those where sizzling meats get cooked to perfection, and the age-old flavors of “la plancha” imbue the seasoned delicacies with additional firy tastes.
What Is A Charbroiler?
One of the first things to know about the commercial charbroiler is that it looks very much like your standard outdoor grill.
A charbroiler in a restaurant is an installation that will generate heat up through a grill to cook food. It delivers those signature grill lines as the ingredients set on top of the grill surface.
The thing about charbroilers, as opposed to your everyday cooking grill, is that they are made for commercial use, which means many of them are designed to distribute heat in particular controlled ways.
Another way to think of the charbroiler is to think of an outdoor grill made in such a way that you can use it as part of a busy kitchen, which brings us to our first point in selecting your chosen charbroiler design.
Indoor and Outdoor Commercial Charbroiler Designs
Some barbecue businesses and other food service operations may buy an outdoor charbroiler for use outside. Or they may simply use a common retail grill, in some cases, though that is not often advisable.
However, most busy kitchens will choose a charbroiler that they can use inside, such as a countertop model that can fit into a kitchen space between other key pieces of equipment. This is often done for security reasons, but it also eliminates trips into and out of the building while staff are working a busy shift.
Types of Charbroilers – Energy Sources
Another important thing to know is that most charbroilers are powered either by gas or electric heat – but on the other hand, some models are wood-burning!
Some restaurants may choose to go with a wood-burning charbroiler just to get that extra level of special natural cooking for their food – but wood burning tends to require a lot more work and careful temperature monitoring, so gas and electric models are more common.
Radiant and Lava Rock Charbroilers
In addition to choosing an energy source, there are two specific kinds of charbroilers that you should know about as you’re shopping.
One is called the radiant charbroiler; the other is called the lava rock charbroiler.
In a radiant charbroiler design, heat is delivered up toward the grill by a series of metal angled pieces called radiants. This eliminates most of the flare-up you get when grease or juices fall onto an open flame.
The lava rock style is different – with these designs, the juices drip onto hot rocks, which causes the flare-up that can provide more of a smoky flavor on the cooked meats or other ingredients.
Since these types of charbroilers work very differently, choosing one or the other will be important in how your kitchen uses this important piece of equipment.
Cast Iron or Stainless Steel
You can also choose from cast iron or stainless steel grills, radiants and burners.Some professionals and home cooks swear by cast iron for its durability, longevity and general integrity, while some restaurant people like stainless steel for its clean look. Talk to your teams about what makes the most sense in your kitchen, and check out the following care tips for each type of charbroiler.
Long Term Care and Cleaning
You’ll also want to think about how to clean these items for long-term use.
With a cast iron grill system and radiants for a charbroiler, the cast-iron parts have to be scrubbed with a wire brush or scraper in between uses. It’s extremely important to monitor your wire brushes to avoid any stray pieces of wire from remaining on the grill or anywhere they can get into food. Ingesting these small pieces of wire can cause serious injuries, which is, above all, something to avoid at all costs.
Those who are familiar with other cast iron cooking equipment know that the recommended way to clean these is with some degreaser, and that they can be re-seasoned with oil between uses. Some chefs like to use vinegar on cast iron mixed with other natural ingredients, to strip away grime without the harshness of soap.
With lava rock charbroilers, experts recommend flipping the rocks between uses, in order to burn off a lot of the stuff that falls on them. Then many will also recommend changing the lava rocks every few months.
With the above tips in mind, you can purchase the charbroiler that works great for your restaurant to deliver handily roasted and grilled proteins to your diners’ plates.
At Chefs’ Toys, we know how to recommend different kinds of restaurant equipment because our people have worked in actual kitchens. We say that we are “for chefs, by chefs,” and we think that is a vital part of selling this kind of food service and restaurant gear. We can help you to find the best tools and resources for your restaurant kitchen!